Review by Gabrielle

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Did I really think this man was a dork once upon a time? Because right now, the bow tie is my only reminder of my first judgement of Aiden Cook. Gone is the Tennessee gentleman and he’s been replaced by an absolute panty-melter.

This book is the sriracha maple syrup to the chicken and waffles of my Sunday morning brunch: sweet, spicy and oh so satisfying. 

Stella Schmidt is fresh out of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility after doing four years for armed robbery. With a sublet apartment in New York and a whole lot of therapy, she’s doing her best to start over. A chance encounter on Fifth Avenue in front of Vivant department store with a dapper man in a bow tie leads her to apply for a job as a window dresser with the fancy flagship store. That dapper man is none other than Aiden Cook, Vivant’s General Manager and majority shareholder. He is captivated by Stella and her ideas. He hires her on a trial basis despite her criminal record. But is hiring a criminal really his best move? Can Stella really leave her past behind? And what will they do about their growing attachment for each other?

This book is soo much fun. It’s no secret that I love holiday romances, but even I can start to find them a little tedious after a while. Tessa has given readers the gift of something a little different this year and I’m so glad she did. There is nothing formulaic about Window Shopping.

If you love smart, sassy main characters, you are going to love Stella. After years of making bad decisions, she wants to turn over a new leaf. Only her own self-doubt is holding her back. As a protection method, she projects a tough exterior and doesn’t let anyone get close to her. Stella learns a lot throughout this book and I loved reading about her journey.

Aiden might be one of my favourite book boyfriends out of all the books I’ve read this year. I love his unending positivity, his southern charm and his wacky stories about his delightful Aunt Edna. I love how undeterred he is by Stella’s crusty exterior and looks for her true inner self. He is always looking for the best in people and that is an admirable trait. One of my favourite things about Aiden is that he never tries to “save” Stella. He doesn’t play the white knight. He doesn’t feel like Stella needs saving and I’m glad Tessa wrote it that way. I have to say his bow ties don’t hurt either. I love a dandy man!

The juxtaposition of Stella and Aiden’s personalities is what really makes this book shine. There is a definite opposites attract trope going on here and their chemistry together sparkles. I love how they play off each other and also compliment each other so well. 

Tessa is really living up to her reputation as the “Michelangelo of dirty talk” (Entertainment Weekly) in this one. It is spicy! The intimate scenes are panty-melting (I’m stealing that one). They are hot while somehow remaining touching and respectful. That is a delicate balance to manage Tessa absolutely knocks it out of the park.

A terrific addition to my favourite holiday reads list. I will be revisiting this book year after year.